Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Bake Bread for Peace

On Saturday night I was at a very unusual event.

A lady from Donegal, Breezy Kelly, has been teaching school children how to bake traditional Irish soda bread and scones for years.   And while she's showing them how to bake, letting them feel the flour, and letting them take part in the process, she tells stories and sings old songs.   How the fairies have to be let out of the grain - that's why a cross is put into the bread.   And why we throw a pinch of salt over our shoulders - that's for the fairies too.  

Well a few years ago she had the brain wave that we break bread for peace so why not bake bread for peace too.   Last year she initiated International Bake Bread for Peace Day - I wrote about on this blog here.  

And now she is taking to the road to bring her message out to more people.   And on Saturday about 30 people gathered in my friends' Catherine and Tom's house  and we listened to Breezy spinning yarns ....

coaxing the men to come up and describe the feeling of the flour....


singing both coarse and sweet old songs that everyone joined in with.

(these photos aren't very focussed - no-one would stand still long enough )



And while she baked and we chatted with her from the 'audience' seated at tables set with tea-
sets and butter and jam, memories arose of our own childhoods in kitchens where our mothers baked and told similar stories and sang those well loved and well known songs.

And the smell of home baking that started to pervade the kitchen took us all back.  80 year old Madge joined in with stories about the goat that was kept at home - how did it get up on the porch every time she went to town - many years later she discovered that two of her sons carried it up there as a prank!    Tommy told stories of trying to milk the goat - it took 5 of them!!!  I remembered walking in the bog barefoot and several told of bringing the tea to the hay field.   One city guy in the audience was a bit overwhelmed by the country simplicity of it all - I think he fell in love.

Then a break to sample the produce - tea and scones and more chat and reminiscing.  

Breezy is extraordinary - she makes everyone feel at home and puts even the most cantankerous audient beautifully in place without offence.  

So if you see a woman with a dog walking the roads with a bag of flour on her back, stop her and invite her in - you'll be glad you did.  

One of our friends that couldn't make it, was there in spirit when Breezy sang his wonderful song "Fresh Bread"   Colum Sands is a gifted songwriter.  ( I wrote about his last album here).   He remembered seeing women in Belfast behind barricades that were on fire and women from the neighbouring street, from the opposite persuasion, throwing loaves of bread to them.  It's such an emotive image that for me.

Here's Colum singing his song modified for this special dance by a group called Spoken Dance.   The boy in the wheelchair comes from Afghanistan and he was wounded by a bullet in the spine - he came to Ireland for treatment and now lives and works in Limerick where the girl and this dance company are from.   It's not a great video but I find it incredibly moving.



Join Breezy's Facebook Page for Bake Bread for Peace at this link.

17 comments:

  1. this is so wonderful! I think I am going to start baking bread for peace and bringing loaves around with me for gifts.

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    1. what a wonderful idea - Breezy will be delighted :)

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    1. It is Jo. I'm sure you bake don't you?

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    2. Actually no I don't Fil. Used to many years ago, but I tend to eat way too much of home made breads etc.

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  3. The video is indeed very moving, as well as the whole post! I think Baking Bread for Peace is amazing, such an initiative, because bread is "the food" for centuries, in the middle of so many biblical stories, and peace is what we all wish - not all, but the majority, I guess. I knew about the cross, but not that it was for fairies... and I didn't know about the pinch of salt, it's so nice to know! I am glad that people could come up with childhood stories... no one has ever baked bread at home - I am sorry to say that, sounds bad, but we had servants at home for generations, so we never had that from the family. BUT I broke the pattern of the family and I bake bread once in a while (I have some simple recipes on my blog). I was always the black sheep in the family :) I think feeling food, feeding beloved ones with our own hands is amzing. I would loooove to bake soda bread and fruit scones, I have never tried to bake them, but I love the taste! And now... the next time I go to Belfast I will think of that image... "behind barricades that were on fire and women from the neighbouring street, from the opposite persuasion, throwing loaves of bread to them". It's so incredible! And again, moving. Thank you so much for this post, I don't have these memories, but I loved to know about them!
    DenisesPlanet.com

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    1. I'm glad you like it Denise - lucky you growing up that way, but it's great that you find your own way now. Irish soda bread is very easy to bake - there's a couple of recipes on Breezy's Facebook page - what she calls Bex Tartar is Cream of Tartar in England. Let us know when you're in Belfast next.

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  4. This is SUCH a beautiful idea. That video was really moving too! I love to think of how people use their simple skills (not that they are simple but you know, they're not making a big showoff song and dance out of something- that sounds the wrong description in this context but you know what I mean- I hope!) and make it into something humbly beautiful and uplifting!
    Hope you are well.x

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    1. I know exactly what you mean Kezzie - that dance moves me to tears every time I see it. So simple yet so powerful.
      I'm doing great, thanks for asking ... finally getting out of the overwhelm of too much to prepare.

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  5. What an amazing idea and the joy of the evening just radiates from your post xx

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  6. A fantastic and yet so simple an idea getting people together to tell tales and eat together - going back to the past to build a peaceful future. Lovely photographs and a very moving video - beautiful dancing between the young man and woman. Thank you so much for sharing :) Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace

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    1. I was thinking of all the wonderful kids you work with Pempi when I was posting this ... there's so much talent hidden isn't there? I hope you're doing well and looking forward to school holidays.

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  7. That sounds wonderful. I love the idea of it, it's so simple but obviously helps bring people together.

    We bake our own bread, but we cheat and use a bread machine, making it by hand sounds almost therapeutic.

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    1. Any tips for the bread machine? I can never make it work - the bread always comes out lopsided :) Lately I've been experimenting making gluten free breads and it's lovely getting hands into the flour again, but I have to confess I hadn't baked much at all before that.

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  8. I wish I knew a Breezy Kelly in my neck of the woods !
    Lovely video, too ;)

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  9. That sounds an utterly wonderful way to spend an evening and the way you describe it is mesmerising. xxx

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